President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to address the national baby formula shortage on Wednesday, Fox News reported.
In addition to invoking the DPA, Biden directed the Pentagon to use its aircraft to airlift formula from overseas countries, provided it meets American health and safety requirements, in a move being dubbed “Operation Fly Formula.”
The White House announced Biden has “directed his team to do everything possible to ensure that there is enough safe infant formula in the country and available for families that need it.”
Invoking the DPA would ensure baby formula manufacturers have the ingredients to manufacture “safe, healthy infant formula here at home,” the White House said.
“The President is requiring suppliers to direct needed resources to infant formula manufacturers before any other customer who may have ordered that good,” it added.
“Directing firms to prioritize and allocate the production of key infant formula inputs will help increase production and speed up in supply chains.”
In addition, the Department of Defense will use contracted commercial air cargo planes to move the baby formula from overseas under the direction of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture.
“Bypassing regular air freighting routes will speed up the importation and distribution of formula and serve as an immediate support as manufacturers continue to ramp up production,” the White House said
Since April, supplies of baby formula have plummeted 40 percent across the United States.
While some of this is attributed to a recall of the formula brand Similac by Abbott Laboratories, shortages were reported starting months ago.
“Baby formula has been hard to find in many parts of the U.S. for months, sending parents searching for Enfamil, Similac, Gerber and other brands,” The Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 12.
“Retailers and formula makers agree that out-of-stocks are a problem. They don’t agree on how severe it is and who is to blame,” the article added.
“Chains like Walmart Inc., and CVS Health Corp. say the manufacturers are having supply issues; formula makers say retailers aren’t getting product to stores once it is delivered.”
Biden, however, has repeatedly said the crisis couldn’t have been predicted now that parents are scrambling to find adequate supplies to feed their babies.
“If we’d been better mind readers, I guess we could have” predicted the shortage, Biden told reporters last week.
“But we moved as quickly as the problem became apparent to us, and we have to move with caution as well as speed.”